"People have often been willing to give up personal identity and join into a collective. Historically, that propensity has usually been very bad news. Collectives tend to be mean, to designate official enemies, to be violent, and to discourage creative, rigorous thought. Fascists, communists, religious cults, criminal 'families' — there has been no end to the varieties of human collectives, but it seems to me that these examples have quite a lot in common. I wonder if some aspect of human nature evolved in the context of competing packs. We might be genetically wired to be vulnerable to the lure of the mob." ~ Jaron Lanier
Are You a Submitizen?
Last night I saw a program on National Socialist Television about the trafficking in women for sex. This article is about more than that.
The production crew met with several women who had been sold as slaves into this sex-trade underground and who had finally escaped to tell their tales. As a result of their stories the film producers decided to try to document this business. They found one man who had sold his friend's wife into slavery and who, for reasons of guilt, apparently, was willing to publicly describe his part in the process. They also found a woman who was (or professed to be) in the business of procuring women for sale into this international pimp network.
I found this to be so bizarre, so completely outside of the realm of my reality that it is hard to actually mentally grasp. I assume (since I think all of us assume that others think as we do) that others might look at this the same as I did. This may be one reason why these sex-traffickers/slave-traders are able to get away with their business. It is so out of our perception of reality that it doesn't even qualify as bad fiction to most of us.
Yet . . . there it is. People treating other people like sacks of potatoes, to be sold and mashed, and eaten up.
These women are held by threats and promises. They are lured by the promise of money, the money they can make in rich and exotic "foreign" lands. Since they often come from the poorest communities, this is a large enticement, a chance to get out, to make something of one's self. Or just desperation. One woman was shown going BACK into the business in order to try and fund the urgent medical needs of her younger brother. She could find of no other way of obtaining the funds.
The woman procurer mentioned above explained to a potential buyer of her enslaved women, that in order to maintain control over the women so as to keep them from simply running away, it is necessary that they be taken to a foreign country and that their passports are taken away from them, ostensibly for "safe-keeping." This is so effective because "undocumented" "sex workers" are treated as criminals by most police and immigration officials. Therefore going to the police for protection is not an option for them. They are trapped and pretty much at the mercy of their "owners" to do whatever is required of them, however appalling. They have no money, no papers - they don't exist as units in our modern certified world.
It suddenly struck me as I was watching all of this, the horror of it all, that it is the fact that humans are considered property almost universally which makes this all possible. The concept of "undocumented" pertaining to a human being is one that I find profoundly disturbing.
If these women are without "papers" they are treated with contempt. We must always be able to show the officials who our owners are so that they will treat us with whatever level of respect those "owners" are able to command. It is not we, as individuals, who are treated with respect--it is our owners. It appears that superficially things have changed, but on a deeper level the reality of "divine right of kings" and such nonsense still rules the day, just below the false facade of freedom and individual rights that are bandied about by those of us (all of us?) who do not take the time to really comprehend the meaning of these words.
If a woman goes to the police for help, what earthy business is it of theirs to demand to see her ownership papers (her passport)? If she has been sold into slavery and kept against her will, how does her paperwork matter at all in this situation? Obviously she doesn't exist as a woman, she is only a piece of property. Is it any different that she is owned by a pimp or a group in parliament? She must present the certification of her owners in order to receive the most common humane treatment. "Oops, your warranty ran out, we no longer consider you worthy of our professed job of protecting you from criminality." "Oh, so sorry . . . you belong to the wrong tribe. We will not accord you basic human consideration until you can show us that your owners vouch for you."
The horrors of this story were huge, but upon reflection they are small potatoes compared to what it really exposes. We as human beings do not believe that individuals are individuals. We are tribe animals and only see the tribe. A human being must show credentials almost everywhere and to almost everyone to be accorded simple human dignity, or what we describe as simple human dignity. It didn't used to be this bad, I don't think. Or maybe I'm just fantasizing a world that never was. We have always judged people on their color, or race, of course, but now it appears that we are judging them on their paperwork, which is even farther removed from who they are. Those who are the most willing to be pawns of tribal rituals will accrue the best sets of papers. Those with the character to be individuals will suffer the the invisibility of shunning.
Martin Luther King, Jr. said it so well when he spoke of judging people on the content of their characters, not the color of their skin. How is it that we have "progressed" to where we are judging people by the color of their paperwork, not even their skin?
Globalization has probably been a big factor in this. Where we used to deal mostly with people we knew, or were somewhat familiar with, now we deal with strangers more often than we do with people we have a personal history with. In trying to cope with this large amount of unknowns in our world, we seek out some form of certification on which to pass judgment. I can understand the need for a sense of context in which to operate our lives, yet this devolvement from personal knowledge down to simply looking for a piece of paper seems to be a belief in a false god. Unless we actually know and agree with the sentiments of the person who signed off on that piece of paper, we are basing our trust and acceptance of the person in front of us on a fiction. The piece of paper is giving us a false sense of security. A sense that we have some knowledge about this person that we didn't have before we saw this piece of paper. But we DON'T. And so it no longer matters WHAT the content of this person's character is, if she doesn't have the right piece of paper, she is not a woman worthy of being protected from brutal, heartless thugs who imprison her and force her to "service" 10 - 15 men a day without pay, without being able to go home to her children, her husband, her life. Forget about the person, it is the papers that matter.
Or, if I don't have the right piece of paper with the right looking stamps and symbols then it matters not at all that I might be an excellent employee, you will not even consider me or my qualifications for the job until I "prove that" someone else has passed some kind of judgment on me.
This is very, very strange.
How has it come that we no longer see each other as people? How can we reverse this trend? The next time you are asked for identification, consider the ramifications of participating in this system. Who owns you? The choice is yours. No one will stand up for you. You and you alone will make the choice.
I am not saying that I have any magic answers, I am only trying to point out that it is only through our use and acquiescence that this system has been able to turn us from people to property. You become the property of the fiction that controls your paperwork. You cease to exist. You become a unit of inventory.
It is time to stop acting like a number, and the first step is to understand how important it is to see others as individual human beings. We are not numbers. Only we as individuals can make this real. If we walk like numbers, quack like numbers, chances are we ARE numbers.
Consider that you go by the name Gwendolyn. If someone calls you Sally, and you respond to that, then, for that person, you are Sally. When we accept someone else's definition of who we are, it is not they who have defined us, it is we who have done it to ourselves. If someone assigns a number to you, even if they tattoo it on your arm, you are not that number until and unless you acknowledge that it represents you. Someone else's definition of me is just that, their definition.
Are you a citizen? One can be sovereign, or one can be a citizen. One cannot be both.
Slavery still exists. We've changed the name to protect the guilty.
"Your Papers!" If you are one who demands them, shame on you.